This ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.
It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.
Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.
On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.
IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT
I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.
The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s medieval city walls but continues to reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.
I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.
BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL
I m in heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is I’m Tasting blessings… literally too. All this at the fabulous formal multicourse monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The lovable loving and friendly monk.
At Cheongjinam Temple. We sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.
We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously memorably pampered. After that lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her vegetarian masterpieces.
lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?
Note: A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)
Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)
Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company
All this made possible thanks to the lovely Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.
KIMCHI MAKING CLASS
Its a dream come true. Not only to learn kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.
It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.
– Coarse Salt 7cups
– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)
– Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)
– Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)
– Chopped raw shrimps 100g
– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g
– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)
– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups
– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups
– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups
– Salted shrimps 1cups
– Anchovy liqueur 1cups
– Sugar 1/2cups
– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups
- Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
- Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
- Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
- Store prepared Kimchi in a container.
The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.
After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!
Brazil in BKC? Would the cuisine be authentic? I was sceptical. And then the globetrotting foodie family Mehrotra pointed out that they’d dined at Brazilian Chef Guto Souza’s restaurant “Go with the flow” in Goa and that it was deliciously on point. And that he was behind BKC’s Boteco too. I was excited to dine there but all good things take time.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
I’ve done it again and again. Over the years, studied Italy by traveling on my belly through all it’s twenty regions with their varying cuisines . I call it “the butter equator” ( it divides Italy in two) one half uses more fat and butter and the other more olive oil. And I love both halves. So when I heard that Cin Cin is serving up food from all parts of Italy, I was excited and landed up with discerning gourmets.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
Rejuvenation. Revival. Restoration. (Trumpets please!) Mumbai’s century old historic Royal Opera house after being closed for a six year renovation is now ( trumpets again!) alive and kicking and singing and cooking. And in all this, playing centre stage is the live music and the gracious venue, actually all four of them (al-fresco restaurant, a cocktail bar, café and jazz bar).
Read my full review on whatshot.in
This is the ultimate. It doesn’t get any better than this. Dining with nature, in nature, around nature gets redefined here. It’s a nature lovers gourmet paradise… and Im in seventh heaven. Sea, trees, forest, cave, stars…the worlds most unique dining experiences here. This Paradise is actually located on Thailand’s fourth largest but least populated island, Koh Kood – just one hour by private cessna plane flight south-east of Bangkok. Lers begin with the stars…
ASTRONOMY WEDS GASTRONOMY
Im tasting stars! Here in this remote and sensationally beautiful Thai island, many a magnificent dinner based on cosmic cycles and Biodynamic viticulture is redefining gastronomy. Do you see the huge telescope in the photograph? visiting astronomer and well-known scientist, Dr. Massimo Tarenghi used it to explain the relationship between the Cosmic/Lunar cycles and the pattern of water, earth, air and fire on our planet. Brilliant chef Kengo Tomita’ creates food to match these rhythmic cycles and the knowledgable beverage maestro Melroy Fernandes pairs it with unique biodyanamic and organic wines. As we dine on the lunar deck, time stands still in this magnificent back to nature Soneva Kiri surrounded by the shimmering Andaman sea. Love their philosophy of S.L.O.W.( Sustainable Local Organic and Wellness) life. And blazing global trails are the golden earted super achieverts Sonu and Eva Shivdasani. Their concept of intelligent luxury dazzles. It recognises the ability for luxury holiday making and care for the environment to co-exist with perfect ease. And here, its not just about serving up delicious experiences but also educating about the philosophy of Bio-dynamism and Sustainability. From identifying a marriage of food and constitution, counting the moons of Jupiter and peering at the graceful halo of Saturn’s translucent ring and dining accordingly… And my learning continues!
This unique Treepod Dining experience takes fine dining to new heights. Comfortably seated in a bamboo pod, we are gently hoisted high up into the tropical foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest. Along with the forever helpful Manjit Ghosh and creative chef Kengo, we gaze out across the boulder covered shoreline dancing with gentle waves, and we savour gourmet delights. And guess how these are delivered to us? Via the zip-line acrobatics of our personal waiter.
Ooh I love Picnics. And on a speedboat in the sparkling blue Waters of the Andaman sea it takes on a whole new flavour. Organic picnic lunch and refreshing juices et al. Can also rise and shine to a luxurious boat ride around the cove to view the spectacular sunrise breakfast of fresh breads, fruits, meats, cheeses and freshly brewed coffee too.
MUSHROOM CAVE LUNCH
Mushroom lovers (count me in ) this is your paradise. Unique private dining experience for specially designed around the resort-grown mushrooms. Dining in that beautifull silent mysterious cave while chef Kengo served up his masterpieces is an unrivalled treat..
The main dish is prepared in front of me and health and wellness benefits of mushrooms also explained.
P.S. Other than these unique dining experiences in nature…two other passions of mine are served up. Yoga and the finest chocolates.
My other favorite four letter word is yoga. This is my first flyingyoga session whuch I learn from dr Dinesh Singh after he does a clinical bioimpedence test and advises puriti. Juices. Liquids and an energising meditation work. And no! its not about denial If this isn’t paradise what is? Would you believe this? A chocobloc with premium chocolate room eat as much as you can AND totally free too. There is a “wall of ice cream” in a custom built glass freezer with over 60 flavors from the indulgent classics to the more adventurous. And the finest wines, rare spirits too… I do an educational and fun tasting with maestro Melroy Fernandes …but that’s another story.
Stop press. I report from gastronomy’s seventh heaven…what else can a city be called when it has the second largest number of Michelin stars in the world? And not only is this stunningly beautiful seaside city of San Sebastian the nurturing ground for these awesomely brilliant chefs but (aptly enough) hosts the world famous food conference Gastronomika.
High-octane discussions and talks by leading chefs, real time tastings while the cooking is taking place, cooking classes, pintxo tours and more. The chefs from the third and fourth best restaurants in the world (Joan Roca and Mauro Colagreco) share their secrets. At the glittering launch event, Juan Marie Arzak the father of modern Basque cuisine graced the occasion, Michel Bras was felicitated by the dynamic director Roser Torres (who sportingly wore an Indian salwar kameez).Also sharing their knowledge and experiences were many an awesome international chef. And to top it all, our very own Indian chefs were the guests of honour.
Together, they served up a delicious overview which was mind-blowingly comprehensive and at the same time personalized. India’s thousand-year-old tradition and the latest avant-garde innovations glittered with equal intensity.
FIRST TIME EVER…
First time ever. An Awesome star cast of award winning Indian chefs from around the world got together. Ive attended many an international conference, but never has there been such a constellation of superstar Indian chefs.
Each one a maestro in his own right gave the world a taste of incredible India. Literally too. Happily ive not only dined at each ones superb restaurants in London Bangkok Delhi Chennai Mumbai and Sanfrancisco but also given them our very own Times Food Awards and applauded them as chairperson of the Indian subcontinent of Asias50best and Worlds50best Restaurant academies. Each one dazzled through their presentations and cooking demonstrations held in the huge auditorium of the sprawling and well-equipped Kursaal .
Crowned Asias best chef three years in a row and the worlds7th best, Gaggan Anand enthralled the audience as he shared his secrets and cooked up his Indian progressive magic. Presenting the philosophy and diversity of our cuisine was Manjit Singh Gill.
,the treasure house of knowledge Ayurveda and cooking. From San Francisco, Michelin starred Quilon’s Srijith Gopinathan kept us fascinated with his presentation of “India de luxe” As did our other Michelin starred chef Sriram Aylur of London’s Quilon on “Extreme spices of the South”. Yet another Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia of Indego ‘s fascinating presentation on “harmony and complexity” was followed by the deliciously riveting one of the only Indian restaurant (from India) on Asias 50 best list, Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent’s talk and demo on “Indian emotional avant-garde”.
The secrets of the North: “Dum” cooking were wonderfully revealed by Dum Pukht’s Gulam Quereshi.
Exotic flavors of the South were brilliantly presented by Praveen Anand of Daksin as was “Tandoor explosion” by Bukhara’s J.P. Singh Bombay Canteen s gifted Thomas Zacharias presentation on “Wild India” was eye-opening. “European language, Indian feelings” was the fascinating subject of Masala Library s bright young chef Saurabh Udinia’s talk.Team incredible India received thunderous applause. Well deserved. Kudos.
Through it all, we were delighted at how each and every chef cooked and served up atleast one dazzling vegetarian dish. From Manish Mehrotra’s chat patta chaat with a twist to Royal Vega’s Varun Mohan’s “Timoori aloo” . The highlight is that not only Varun himself vegetarian but Royal Vega our only purely vegetarian pan Indian fine dine restaurant. He shares with us the recipe he demonstrated in the Gastronomika.
RECIPE.. TIMOORI ALOO
½ kg Baby Potato
2 cup Greek yoghurt plain
Salt To taste
½ tea spoon Fresh lemon juice
1tea spoon Green chilies paste
1 tea spoon Ginger paste
½ tea spoon Timoor freshly pounded (Himalayan Pepper)
½ tea spoon Red Chili flakes
1 tea spoon Cardamom powder
¼ tea spoon Nutmeg powder
¼ tea spoon Mace powder
1 cup Cream
2 Table spoon Ghee
2 pieces TejPatta
¼ tea spoon Cumin seeds
½ cup Onions, finely chopped
¼ tea spoon Saffron, dissolve in a tea spoon of warm water
Wash, pat dry, prick cut potatoes into halves
Boil with salt until tender.
Drain and cool.
In a bowl add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, green chili paste pounded timoor, red chili flakes, cardamom, nutmeg, mace powder, salt and cream, mix well.
Marinate potatoes in this mixture. for 35 – 40 minutes.
On medium heat, in a heavy bottom pan, put ghee tejpatta, cumin, stir 30 seconds, saute onion.
Add marinated potatoes. Bring to boil, stir. Cover. reduce heat. cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle saffron. Serve.
P.S. Aptly enough, I was taken to lunch to KM.0 (hold your breath) a pure vegetarian restaurant by Gemma Moliner and dream team. It served up delicious and amazing creations. And ofcourse I feasted on Michelin starred restaurants…what a line up…Arzak (Juan Marie Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak thrill) Mugaritz, Akellare, Mirador de Ullia…Was dazzled by them. As by the Gastronomika and our very own team Incredible India.
Delicious news! Mumbai is trailblazing and showing the way to Dubai. In more ways than one. Our very own revered and feared, media baron (Blitz) the late Russy Karanjia’s grand-daughter Faarah Mehta Shewakramani’s pioneering and fully booked up elective educational academy is the talk of the town. It is infusing culture, art and even gourmet (love that) knowledge . High profile editor Rita Mehta Karanjia makes time from her hectic media and celebrity management work, to be the supportive mother. Who would’ve thought that a dinner at a world famous Peruvian restaurant in Dubai would be all about shining the spotlight on Mumbai and India? Over the vibrant, fragrant and colourful dishes, I discover that Lilavati hospital in Mumbai is named after my other guest, the talented Liza Mehta Vyas’s philanthropic mother. And as though all these Mumbai connections were not enough, not only is Coya owned by the Indian Waney brothers but even the executive chef is Indian. Jai ho!
Excuse me but I’m getting high on this high tea and exquisite patisserie. Over eight decades of Hollywood history is distilling itself in this “Pretty woman” hotel in Los Angeles. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor have all lived in Beverly Wilshire (where Pretty woman was shot) Each one of my companions are interlinked to it too. This is the very first hotel that Our very own Bollywood and Hollywood star Kabir Bedi made Beverly Wilshire his “Home away from home” in 1977 ( when he moved to Hollywood and shot for james Bond et al) He is In LA as part of his whirlwind nine city concert tour (he plays sutradhar). Along with him is his talented son Adam Bedi who is an expert on special effects for Hollywood films and his lovely wife Melissa, an expert on makeup for Hollywood. We feast on patisseur extraordinaire Chris Ford’s sweet creations which dazzle and delight.The charming and dynamic Ben Trodd, helms nine luxury hotels, spearheads this Hollywood landmark. Also with us is the highly efficient and forever helpful “pretty woman” Lauren Dutton-Breen.
Kabir is the first Indian on the Oscar Academy jury. Loves desserts (like I do). He is crystal clear about the fact that Calories “must be worth having” I couldn’t agree with him more. Chef Fords desserts are “Oscar worthy”